The art of tossing
The man has got it up to ten minutes, he deserves respect
The "digital smiley" - a cunning series of keystrokes which gave rise to the ubiquitous emoticon - is today celebrating its 25th birthday. That's according to Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman, who says that at 11:44 am on 19 September 1982, during an electronic bulletin board discussion about "the limits of …
Quote: "Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman... at 11:44 am on 19 September 1982...made the fateful suggestion... (of a) character sequence for joke markers."
He might have sent the claimed email at that precise time. But he wasn't the first with the electronic smiley (let alone the mechanical typist's smiley).
In April 1979 - over three years earlier - a guy named MacKenzie posted an email to MsgGroup (the unofficial community on ARPAnet which was instrumental in formulating email standards and protocols and whose most prominent member was Dave Crocker) posted a suggestion that by playing with punctuation in email one could more easily convey subtleties such as sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek content.
MacKenzie proposed using a hyphen and parenthesis thus -) He also freely acknowledged that he'd cribbed the idea from an article in Reader's Digest.
Of course, quite a few of the MsgGroup's members were at Carnegie-Mellon. So it is, perhaps, surprising that Scott Fahlman seems to have missed MacKenzie's contribution and the minor flame war it precipitated.
I vaguely remember to seeing quoted a passing reference to 'extended punctuation sets' in a RFC. Buggered if I can remember where or when - anyone who can be arsed could search it out here:
And lest younger Vultures think I am an old fart, I can still toss off in under ten minutes ;)
Yes, the smiley is much older than computers, I've seen pages of what is essentially ASCII art but created with a typewriter (including cunning use of the backspace and halfspace to put multiple characters in the same area). I'm pretty sure it included smileys as we know them.
They won't known as smileys, of course - but am I right in thinking that 'smiley' is a trademarked name for the trademarked yellow smiley face? Which is why commercial chat applications offer 'emoticons' and other such pseudonyms.
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